tv NBC Nightly News NBC January 30, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
crisis in egypt. another day of chaos in the streets and a show of force, f-16s soaring over kai row. president mubarak is clinging to power, but is he losing the support of a crucial ally in washington? tonight, the strongest words yet from the white house as americans in egypt scramble to from the white house as americans in egypt scramble to get home. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. lester is in egypt tonight. we will be checking in with him shortly on what is turn nothing another chaotic and dangerous night on the streets of cairo.
protestors once again ignoring the curfew. the death toll stands at more than 100 now, with thousands more injured. tonight, the state department is making plans to evacuate thousands of u.s. citizens on chartered planes starting tomorrow. and signs today the white house may be distancing itself from the mubarak government. president obama said the u.s. supports "an orderly transition in egypt." we have special coverage from cairo and across the middle east this evening, beginning again with our chief foreign correspondent richard engel in cairo. richard? >> reporter: good evening, kate. we have been hearing bursts of automatic gunfire tonight as soldiers fire on looters who are trying to raid a church. this is a situation now where no one is truly in charge, not the police, not the government, not even the army. the army has sent tanks into the streets and today, fighter jets buzzed cairo. egypt has gone from a police state to a state of chaos.
but the show of force isn't stopping thousands of demonstrators. >> no one is afraid of a curfew. we have been afraid for 30 years and no one is afraid now. >> reporter: and with each day, more soldiers, the backbone of president mubarak's regime, are joining the protests against him. but away from the rally, egypt is spinning out of control. looting has become widespread. the government pulled all police from their posts yesterday it created a drastic security vacuum. there have been breakouts at least five prisons. witnesses say up to 10,000 prisoners have escaped, murderers, rapist and also islamic militants. egyptians now fear crime and terrorism. the escape is included more than 30 leaders from the muslim brotherhood, a banned islamic group that has joineded the protests. in alexandria today, huge crowds gather to bury some of the more
than 100 killed so far. medical officials tell nbc news, 4,000 have been injured and 500 people are missing. many of them women. for protection, egyptians are now relying on themselves. across cairo, a kind of mob justice is being established. gangs of vigilantes are stopping cars, setting up checkpoints them say they are looking for looters and thieves. the neighborhood guards are armed with sticks, metal bars, golf clubs, knives, anything they can find. >> it is very terrifying. everybody has gone into their house, their wives, their sisters, their brothers, everything. >> reporter: vigilantes have made hundreds of citizen arrest and witnesses say they have killed and beaten an unknown number of suspected looters. the arrival of vag lan test stopping cars at will has terrified foreigners in egypt. this revolt still has no single leader, but the former u.n. weapons inspector mohamed elbaradi, clearly wants the
role. tonight, defying a curfew, he spoke to protestors in cairo and called for president mubarak to step down. you've taken back your rights, he told the demonstrators. what we have begun cannot go back. >> i feel he can form a government that can lead us out of this mess. >> reporter: but bar radke so far doesn't have broad popularity here. the noble laureate has spent much of his life outside egypt. president mubarak briefly appeared on television, meeting his national security council. military sources tell nbc news he has already handed some authority to his newly appointed vice president, omar suleiman. but the unrest and now crime here only seem to be convincing more egyptians that mubarak should step down to prevent more bloodshed. egyptian police have begun to redeploy across egypt. the government says they will return to the streets of cairo
tomorrow. kate? >> richard, you lived there for four years. you know this place so well. you have been there on the ground for several days now. what is the main difference today from prior days? >> reporter: every day that passes, more and more average people, the working class of egypt, are joining these protests. it is not just a student movement anymore it is not a religious or political fringe movement t is the unemployed it is the average egyptian who has now decided to take his grievances to the street and ask for mubarak to step down. >> richard engel reporting again tonight from cairo. thank you. state department said today it will help americans who want to get out of egypt charter flights that begin tomorrow will carry nonessentialing embassy personnel and dependents first and then other american citizens who want to leave. cnbc's erin burnett reports from cairo on the tense wait for a flight out. >> reporter: caught in the uprising, thousands of tourists, including americans, fill cairo's airport. trapped in the rising chaos in
the streets and stranded by canceled flights. today, the u.s. state department announced it will be chartering planes for americans who want to leave. for eleanor radcliffe from virginia, holed up in her hotel for days now, it won't be a moment too soon. >> i didn't actually feel nervous or upset about anything until the jets started flying overhead. and i was sitting outside and one came very low over the hotel and i thought we were being bombed. >> reporter: there are currently 50,000 americans in egypt who have reg gist wertd u.s. embassy. in the coming days, the state department estimates thousands of them will try to get flights out of the country. >> it is very chaotic for us and we don't speak the language and it is hard to communicate with people and get information. and so, the best thing for us is to get to the airport. >> reporter: some though who have ventured out from their hotels have first-person accounts of the protest and military response. >> never seen anything like it before. i kind of -- i walked out into the crowds and kind of saw what
was going on. there was a lot of, i don't know, tear gas. it was the first time i've ever smelled tear gas. that was interesting. >> reporter: certainly not what most people have in mind when they think of a vacation to egypt where they expect to see the pyramids a so many amazing historical treasures. we can tell you is jarring here and it is difficult to get around. we came to the airport, a trip that usually takes about a half an hour, maybe more to get to our bureau took more than three hours and the reason the vij lan test richard was talk about we saw 20 to 30 groups of them, young boys all the way to midhadle aged men and they were carrying everything from golf clubs to axes, shot guns, that they were handling very cavalierly. anything, bats, particularly bats. and they told us they were protecting their families from looters. some of them told us that egypt is better than this when it comes to security. one thing that hit home for us, kate, on our final stretch coming to the bureau in the car, the army actually fired a
warning shot at our car because we were driving too fast. it just goes to show you it can be frightening indeed here tonight. back to you. >> erin burnett, take care please, thank you. erin will have more in a special report on cnbc tonight at 8 eastern. we should also mention we have posted the state department contact information for anyone with loved ones in egypt right now on our website. that's nightly.msnbc.com. and now on to the response to all of this from the white house. today, secretary of state hillary clinton was the face of the administration, apeerng he every network to call for an orderly transition to democracy in egypt. she spoke with nbc's david gregory on "meet the press." >> should mubarak lose power? would the united states offer him sanctuary? >> yeah, i believe strongly that we are only at the beginning of what is unfolding in egypt. i'm not going to go into hypotheticals and speculation, other than to say that president mubarak and his government have
been an important partner to the united states. >> but aid like to see him stay in power? >> david, you cannot keep trying to put words in my mouth. i have never said that i don't intend to say that. i want the egyptian people to have the chance to chart a new future. it needs to be an orderly, peaceful transition to real democracy, not faux democracy, like the elections we saw in iran two years ago, where you have one election 30 years ago and then the people just keep staying in power and become less and less responsive to their people. we want to see a real democracy that reflects the vibrancy of egyptian society. and we believe that president mubarak, his government, civil society, political activists, need to be part of a national dialogue to bring that about. >> secretary clint on "meet the press" this morning. nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell in washington with us tonight. andrea, you saw the secretary bristol there will for a moment saying don't put words in my
mouth. the united states walking a delicate line here, calling for a transition to democracy? >> exactly right. absolutely. good evening, kate. the key change today is that call by the president and secretary clinton for what they are saying is an orderly transition. officials say that means permitting political parties, debate, real elections with a choice of candidates for the first time. they want to avoid the impression, you saw that with the secretary's statement, that the u.s. is in any way calling the shots. they he know that would backfire them he fear that if mubarak were forced to give up power now, right away, islamic extremists would try to take over a big u.s. concern, of course is what's happening in egypt and before that in tunisia will now spread to other pro-west arab countries. and in fact, when president obama talked to the saudi king, king abdullah this weekend, u.s. officials said that the president stressed the need for universal rights and an orderly transition to a government that is "responsive to the egyptian people." but the saudis says the two leaders talked about looting and attempts to ignite the flames of
chaos a senior u.s. official told me that what we see as democracy they see as chaos. another official said that the king sees the writing on the wall and fears it is now coming his way. >> and andrea, what about on the military side? is the pentagon in touch with military leaders over in egypt? >> you belt, kate. both defense secretary gates and the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral mullins, have both talked to their counterparts this weekend, urging the army to keep doing what it's doing, means don't crackdown on the protesters but go after the looters to preserve order. >> forgive me, andrea mitchell in washington tonight, thank you so much. as we mentioned, leather holt is also in egypt tonight in sharm el-sheik on the peninsula and with communication extremely limited there, he was able to file this late report for us tonight. >> reporter: kate, thanks and good evening. sharm el-sheik has provided a reliable back door to this country after flights in and out of cairo were disrupted by the curfew. the airport here is working. the land route, however, from here to cairo is questionable.
there are reports that native bedouins have formed ad hoc security teams and roadblocks along the way. we opted not to make that drive in the dark. the country continues to say this resort air is unaffected by the crisis although at least one foreign ministry has advised its citizens to not go out at night. we flew in today from europe, we were surprised, frankly, the plane filled with tourist, many families coming here on holiday. one other note, you have been hearing the internet is largely down the last few days there are signs the situation sim proving. kate, we are able in fact able to come to you tonight we were able to fashion a work-around of sorts to get this report to you via the internet. and right now, we are going to send it back now new york. >> lester holt, lester holt live in -- reporting from sharm el-sheik egypt. just across egypt'sed or he, israelis and palestinians are, of course, watching events unfold with growing nervousness. michelle kosinski joins us live from tel aviv with that part of the story. michelle, good evening.
>> reporter: hi, kate. people here say they know they are watching history unfold around the clock on their television. for them, the difference is it is so close. already we are seeing some people enter gaza from egypt through tunnels and what happens to egypt next will determine whether israel still has that one key ally in its own region. on a rainy night in tel aviv, people warm up in cav nice relax, the conversation returns to the fire that is raging a bothered away. >> we are afraid. we are afraid. no doubt, every israeli is afraid. >> reporter: afraid of losing mubarak and egypt as an ally, even if it is, they acknowledge, a cold peace, but one that's endured more than 30 years. afraid of the potential for a harder line islamic leadership there strengthening others around them. afraid of militants crossing through tunnels into the gaza strip, like newly escaped prisoner has san washa who readily admits he was locked up
in egypt for plotting an attack on israel. >> i was not successful. i'm grateful to god in any case. >> reporter: the palestinian city of ramallah, worries about unrest spreading but many hoping it will. >> i think if there is a democratic regime in egypt. that that will be very good for palestinians, israelis. >> reporter: in tel aviv, too, is the younger home say the same thing, not afraid. 32-year-old writer feels for the egyptian poor. the freedoms they want that she enjoys. >> i mean, the people who demonstrate now in egypt are the young people. the people that work hard. the people want to be free. >> reporter: young people here see what's happening in egypt coming from other young people who are a lot like them. of course, the big unknown is who will gain power next?
and today, prime minister benjamin netanyahu, who spoke to president obama and secretary of state clinton yesterday said the goal is to preserve peace with egypt and act now with responsibility, restraint and careful consideration, kate. >> michelle kosinski don't in israel, thank you. still to come as we continue here this sunday night, egypt pulls the plug on a popular television network and suddenly, a new source is making news of its own around the world. and later, saving egypt's priceless troves of ancient treasures in the midst of the uprising. and if you wake up often in the middle of the night... rest is here, on the wings of lunesta. lunesta helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, so you can wake up feeling rested. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving, or engaging in other activities while asleep, without remembering it the next day, have been reported. abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation,
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today, the egyp us government shut down the most influential source of information for its citizens, al jazeera television. the news network is highly trusted by the arab people, but an irritant to many arab governments, including egypt's. now, al jazeera is taking on a whole new role, as nbc's martin fletcher reports. >> reporter: back against the wall, president mubarak struck back today at the messenger, banning al jazeera's arabic-language tv network in egypt, closing its office in kai row, silencing its reporters. 1052 a.m., al jazeera in egypt shuts down. the government accused al jazeera of fanning the flames of revolt by its relentless dramatic images of violence. al jazeera hit back, accusing mubarak of trying to "stifle and repress free reporting." >> even if you take al jazeera
out of egypt, my sense is that events going on there will continue to unfold. >> reporter: al jazeera's long been controversial, heavily criticizing the united states for broadcasting every word of al qaeda leader osama bin laden. but in the middle east, al jazeera is, by far, the most popular and trusted tv news channel. >> they read public opinion and they cater to it. they are the closest thing to public opinion there is. >> reporter: that makes it a threat to arab governments still trying to control the message. al jazeera is already banned in iraq. in lebanon last week, demonstrators attacked and burned its satellite truck. and in the west bank this month, demonstrators attacked its offices after palestinian authority president mahmoud abbas accused al jazeera of trying to destroy him politically. and it was al jazeera's nonstop coverage of tunisia's successful revolt against their president
this month that encouraged egyptian protesters. egyptian tv today released these pictures it wants people to see, president mubarak leading a government meeting, business as usual. but outside, even without al jazeera, the street tells a different story. martin fletcher, nbc news, new york. up next, don't put the shovels away. another winter storm headed for a large part of the nation. eak compromise what i like to do. i take care with vesicare, because i have better places to visit than just the bathroom. ( announcer ) once-daily vesicare can help control your bladder muscle, and is proven to treat overactive bladder with symptoms of frequent urges and leaks, day and night. if you have certain stomach or glaucoma problems, or trouble emptying your bladder, do not take vesicare. vesicare may cause allergic reactions that may be serious. if you experience swelling of the face, lips, throat or tongue, stop taking vesicare and get emergency help. tell your doctor right away if you have severe abdominal pain or become constipated for three or more days.
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investigators in oregon resumed their search today for 8-year-old kyron horman who disafreermd his school seven months ago after science fair them searched rural areas north and west of portland. investigators say snow prevented them from searching these new locations until now. there's another winter storm headed for the midwest and northeast and it is expected to impact 29 states. in fact, united airlines has already waived its change fees for passengers scheduled to fly in and out of chicago o'hare from tuesday to thursday.
the weather channel's adam berg has the latest for us. good evening, adam. say it ain't so. >> reporter: good evening, kate, i wish i could say it ain't so, this is yet another system and a lot of folks here at the weather channel, national weather service, calling this one here maybe one of the more significant systems of the season and we are already so sick and tired of t let's get to the maps and show everybody exactly how this is going to play out. we go into monday, denver, kansas city, st. louis, chicago, all feeling the impacts here. and as we go monday and into tuesday that area of low pressure will kick out of the four corners region and we could be looking at some significant icing, gang, anywhere from st. louis all the way through indianapolis over toward columbus who hospital. some areas maybe half-inch to an inch of ice coating some of these areas. and then we follow this right into wednesday across the northeast, mid-atlantic. look at some of the snow totals already across this region. new york city, for instance, averaging about 22 inches for the entire season, already here, almost look like the times that amount and here comes more. we are tired of it.
>> we are. thank you, adam. appreciate it. when we come back. saving egypt's ancient treasures. move us all to a better place. and caltrate moves us. caltrate knows 80% of us don't get the calcium we need. and when we don't, our bodies steal it from our bones. caltrate helps put it back. with 1200 mg of calcium and 800 iu of vitamin d. women need caltrate. caltrate helps women keep moving because women move the world. test. test. test. test. kathy said, "well, let me give you rachel's number."
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history and ancient treasures, the pyramids, the nile, mummies, king tut. so, it's been disturbing to hear about treasures destroyed or defiled, looters taking advantage of the chaos. at the egyptian museum in cairo this weekend, soldiers surveyed the damage. 14 cases, priceless artifacts, damaged by thieves who seem to be hunting for gold. >> they were able, these two people, to enter inside the cairo museum from the top and they destroyed two mummies. >> reporter: concerned egyptians formed a human chain to protect the museum's treasures. >> there is some egyptians, really good egyptians, tried to stop them. >> reporter: still you can the damage was done. archaeologists and egyp toll gists all around the world are studying the grainy images on websites, conferring with each other on blogs and to their trained eyes, the destruction is devastating. >> it just hurts it really hurts. >> reporter: dr. bob briar is an expert on egyptian mummies who
has been to that museum more than 100 times. it is like our smithsonian it is a repository of egyptian culture. >> reporter: many of the damaged or looted items came from the tomb of that famous pharaoh, king tut. what are we looking at there? >> the tutankhamen object, king tut, it is a wooden statue, it was a panther, standing on top of that and it was once in beautiful condition. >> reporter: how old is that? >> 3,300 years old. >> reporter: two mummies were damaged. there are report these may have been beheaded. >> this was on the mummy of tutankhamen's great-grandmother. >> reporter: and today, reports of looting other archaeological sites, include one of egypt's ancient burial ground. today, the military stood guard at the museum and at the famous pyramids, close,000 to tourists. experts are hopeful egypt has enough security forces to protect most of its history, literally millions of ancient artifacts. >> now you know you have really got to protect everything and they are gonna do i